The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories

Author: Mark Twain

Note Secretly Passed by Henry to His Brother:

Cox told me last night that there is getting to be a good deal of
ugly talk among the men against the captain and us aft. They say
that the captain is the cause of all; that he did not try to save
the ship at all, nor to get provisions, and that even would not let
the men put in some they had; and that partiality is shown us in
apportioning our rations aft. ....asked Cox the other day if he
would starve first or eat human flesh. Cox answered he would
starve. ....then told him he would only be killing himself. If we
do not find those islands we would do well to prepare for anything. the loudest of all.


We can depend on ...., I think, and ...., and Cox, can we not?


I guess so, and very likely on....; but there is no telling.... and
Cox are certain. There is nothing definite said or hinted as yet,
as I understand Cox; but starving men are the same as maniacs. It
would be well to keep a watch on your pistol, so as to have it and
the cartridges safe from theft.

Henry’s Log, June 5. Dreadful forebodings. God spare us from all
such horrors! Some of the men getting to talk a good deal. Nothing
to write down. Heart very sad.

Henry’s Log, June 6. Passed some sea-weed and something that looked
like the trunk of an old tree, but no birds; beginning to be afraid
islands not there. To-day it was said to the captain, in the
hearing of all, that some of the men would not shrink, when a man
was dead, from using the flesh, though they would not kill.
Horrible! God give us all full use of our reason, and spare us from
such things! ’From plague, pestilence, and famine; from battle and
murder, and from sudden death, good Lord, deliver us!’

[Diary entry] June 6. Latitude 16 degrees 30 minutes, longitude
(chron.) 134 degrees. Dry night and wind steady enough to require
no change in sail; but this A.M. an attempt to lower it proved
abortive. First the third mate tried and got up to the block, and
fastened a temporary arrangement to reeve the halyards through, but
had to come down, weak and almost fainting, before finishing; then
Joe tried, and after twice ascending, fixed it and brought down the
block; but it was very exhausting work, and afterward he was good
for nothing all day. The clue-iron which we are trying to make
serve for the broken block works, however, very indifferently, and
will, I am afraid, soon cut the rope. It is very necessary to get
everything connected with the sail in good easy running order before
we get too weak to do anything with it.

Only three meals left. —Captain’s Log.

[Diary entry] June 7. Latitude 16 degrees 35 minutes N., longitude
136 degrees 30 minutes W. Night wet and uncomfortable. To-day
shows us pretty conclusively that the American Isles are not there,
though we have had some signs that looked like them. At noon we
decided to abandon looking any farther for them, and to-night haul a
little more northerly, so as to get in the way of Sandwich Island
vessels, which fortunately come down pretty well this way—say to
latitude 19 degrees to 20 degrees to get the benefit of the trade-
winds. Of course all the westing we have made is gain, and I hope
the chronometer is wrong in our favour, for I do not see how any
such delicate instrument can keep good time with the constant
jarring and thumping we get from the sea. With the strong trade we
have, I hope that a week from Sunday will put us in sight of the
Sandwich Islands, if we are not safe by that time by being picked

It is twelve hundred miles to the Sandwich Islands; the provisions are virtually exhausted, but not the perishing diarist’s pluck.

[Diary entry] My cough troubled me a good deal last night, and
therefore I got hardly any sleep at all. Still, I make out pretty
well, and should not complain. Yesterday the third mate mended the
block, and this P.M. the sail, after some difficulty, was got down,
and Harry got to the top of the mast and rove the halyards through
after some hardship, so that it now works easy and well. This
getting up the mast is no easy matter at any time with the sea we
have, and is very exhausting in our present state. We could only
reward Harry by an extra ration of water. We have made good time
and course to-day. Heading her up, however, makes the boat ship
seas and keeps us all wet; however, it cannot be helped. Writing is
a rather precarious thing these times. Our meal to-day for the
fifteen consists of half a can of ’soup and boullie’; the other half
is reserved for to-morrow. Henry still keeps up grandly, and is a
great favourite. God grant he may be spared.

A better feeling prevails among the men. —Captain’s Log.

[Diary entry] June 9. Latitude 17 degrees 53 minutes. Finished to-
day, I may say, our whole stack of provisions.[2] We have only left
a lower end of a ham-bone, with some of the outer rind and skin on.
In regard to the water, however, I think we have got ten days’
supply at our present rate of allowance. This, with what
nourishment we can get from boot-legs and such chewable matter, we
hope will enable us to weather it out till we get to the Sandwich
Islands, or, sailing in the meantime in the track of vessels thither
bound, be picked up. My hope is in the latter, for in all human
probability I cannot stand the other. Still, we have been
marvellously protected, and God, I hope, will preserve us all in His
own good time and way. The men are getting weaker, but are still
quiet and orderly.

[Diary entry] Sunday, June 10. Latitude 18 degrees 40 minutes,
longitude 142 degrees 34 minutes. A pretty good night last night,
with some wettings, and again another beautiful Sunday. I cannot
but think how we should all enjoy it at home, and what a contrast is
here! How terrible their suspense must begin to be! God grant that
it may be relieved before very long, and He certainly seems to be
with us in everything we do, and has preserved this boat
miraculously; for since we left the ship we have sailed considerably
over three thousand miles, which, taking into consideration our
meagre stock of provisions, is almost unprecedented. As yet I do
not feel the stint of food so much as I do that of water. Even
Henry, who is naturally a good water-drinker, can save half of his
allowance from time to time, when I cannot. My diseased throat may
have something to do with that, however.

Nothing is now left which by any flattery can be called food. But they must manage somehow for five days more, for at noon they have still eight hundred miles to go. It is a race for life now.

This is no time for comments or other interruptions from me—every moment is valuable. I will take up the boy brother’s diary at this point, and clear the seas before it and let it fly.


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Chicago: Mark Twain, "Note Secretly Passed by Henry to His Brother:," The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories, ed. Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934 and trans. Townsend, R.S. in The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories (New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1916), Original Sources, accessed October 5, 2022,

MLA: Twain, Mark. "Note Secretly Passed by Henry to His Brother:." The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories, edited by Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934, and translated by Townsend, R.S., in The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories, Vol. 22, New York, A. L. Burt Company, 1916, Original Sources. 5 Oct. 2022.

Harvard: Twain, M, 'Note Secretly Passed by Henry to His Brother:' in The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories, ed. and trans. . cited in 1916, The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories, A. L. Burt Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 5 October 2022, from